Fascism is a form of government where the state and the corporate sector govern. From the Second World War era, the US has been against communist nations, who were alleged to subscribe to fascism. But, in the near past the American government’s actions have posed questions in the minds of the citizens and other nations, about their level of democracy. How far into fascism has America reached? It is among the questions that most people are asking. The paper below uses George Orwell’s 1984 as the mirror for assessing whether the US is moving towards fascism.
Situation in 1984 Oceania
1984 by George Orwell is an interesting literature work. While the author wrote the book in 1948, he presents a modern era (1984). George had observed how the communist nations were running their governments. Hence, he wrote 1984 to show how fascism can affect the people in the future. He visualizes such form of governance in the future. The novel is about Oceania, one of the three states that had been formed after the Second World War. The story is told through Winston Smith, who is the protagonist. Other major characters include the Big Brother, who is the most feared person and the leader of the Ingsoc party. There is also Goldstein who is the perceived leader of the brotherhood, which works to overthrow the party. Julia who becomes the girlfriend of Winston is also another rebel of the party but for her own interests. Then is the O’Brien who lies to Winston that he belongs to brotherhood but ends up being one of the party elites. The Parsons are also an important family in the story. Lastly, Seum is responsible for forming a new dictionary for the accepted language, Newspeak. Below is a list of themes in this political fiction:
1.1 Constant surveillance
The novel is a political read. A number of themes are developed in the entire book. To begin with, the government has employed constant surveillance. At the beginning of the story, Orwell writes “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston’s own”(4). Winston feels uncomfortable because of being watched, even when he is on the streets. The big brother posters were everywhere on the walls of the street buildings, on posts and even in homes. The leader was invisible but his presence was everywhere. His dark eyes and hair, shows that he was also a fiery creature, who instilled fear in case, one thought of rebelling (Orwell 4-5).
Apart from the big brother’s posters, there were helicopters flying as low as possible to check through the people’s windows. The planes were run by the police patrol. They would patrol over the areas where the party members lived, to ascertain that there are no signs of rebelliousness or revolutionism. This made the residents to avoid congregating in meeting places, lest they are presumed to be going against the party. The patrols also involve door-to-door surveillance, especially if one is thought to have committed a crime against the party including criminal thoughts. At one time, Winston was writing in his diary and he heard a knock. He thought it was the police, only to realize it was Parsons’ wife (Orwell, 26).
Telescreens are other forms of constant surveillance. The telescreens are applied in homes of all party members, streets and in the main government building of Oceania. The screens picked up images and voices as well. The content was transmitted to the thought police, who were at the ministry of love. They picked even an audible whisper. Hence, one needed to be careful anytime. (Orwell 5).
1.2 Unending propaganda
Propagandas are in plenty in Orwell’s story. The party members are fed with propaganda through the telescreens. They include praises on the government and what it has done for its people (Orwell 8). One interesting example was when Winston narrates about the Ministry of Plenty, which runs a lottery. The huge prizes to be won by the participants were imaginary but one had to believe otherwise. The smaller amounts were reported to have been distributed to the slum dwellers. However, Winston thinks that there is no hope, as he assesses the condition in the slums. But, he has to believe that the Oceania government is being run appropriately (Orwell 109).
Another way that Ingsoc was able to take full control of the citizens is through the distortion of language. It made efforts to ensure that the language used by the party members, lacked hateful words or ones, which would enable them to express their anguish. They do this by forming ministries of peace, love and truth among others, which their responsibilities were parallel to their names. Their party slogan is another feature of this theme, peace is war, freedom is slavery and wisdom is ignorance (Orwell 6). Besides, through Seum they were also working on a new dictionary for Newspeak, which would be used as another tool of control (Orwell 65).
1.4 Historical revisionism
The Ingsoc party thought that by revising the history, they would tailor it to depict what they wanted the current and the future generations to believe. Even where there were remnants, such as in case of the old man that Winston meets, their memories should not be revealed (Orwell 116).Winston was mandated to edit historical articles or periodicals on various issues, to ensure that they matched the party’s principles. He was not given the guidelines but rather it was his responsibility to ensure that all incriminating literature, is erased permanently and it is replaced with the revised edition. One’s biography would be removed completely, such that they become non-existent (Orwell 56).This was an act of injustice, they robbed the citizens the opportunity to enjoy their history.
The big brother’s presence was meant to make the party members dread the thought of going against the party. Orwell states “The blackmoustachiod’ face gazed down from any commanding corner” (4). Even if most people such as Winston experienced doublethink, they could not act on their thoughts since the big brother was always looking at them (Orwell 10). There is fear among colleagues as well. While Julia’s reasons for looking at Winston are mere sensuality instincts, he fears that she is trying to read his mind (Orwell 13). He carries himself with fear everywhere he goes since he does not know who might tell on him. Even when they are with they eat with Seum, who is in charge of Newspeak language, he does share his thoughts (Orwell 64).
Torture is a tool that the Oceania government employs on all its rebels. When Winston and Julia are captured, each of them is taken in a dark cell in the Ministry of Love. Winston does not know what happens to his girlfriend but through him, one gets to know the conditions of the cell. In the cell, O’Brien whom he had trusted as a member of the brotherhood becomes his torturer. He starts with physical torture and he ends up with a serious wound. His malnourished body is giving up as well as O’Brien mocks him. He goes further to erase his hatred and Winston begins to believe in the principles of the Ingsoc party. As if this is not enough, he is tortured to betray his only love Julia and he loses all his feelings towards her. (Orwell 311-387).
1.7 Lack of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus is a summons that demands a prisoner to be taken before a judge to be tried. It is one element of justice, which lacked in Oceania government. The offenders were taken to the torture cells immediately at the slightest show of rebellion (Orwell 311-324). The thought police and the patrols were the yardsticks for assessing ones criminal extent. The offender was not allowed to defend himself or herself. This fueled the rule of totalitarianism and worked against the citizens. The thought police for instance worked with assumptio
Current Examples of Authoritarianism in the US
Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to the Congress in 1941 enshrines the basic rights of the American citizens. The “four freedoms” as they are popularly known included freedom of speech, of speech, freedom from want and freedom from fear (Price). However, the freedom of speech seems to have been undermined. While the citizens have the freedom to use technology and communicate freely, the US government has established the NSA to tap into people’s conversations. People no longer have the privacy to share their thoughts freely. Since, most understand that they government may be spying on them, they choose to alter their words. The NSA runs without the regulation of the courts. They run programs such as the co-traveler, which makes sure that cell phones are mapped and even those, which are in close proximity with ones gadget (Robinson).
Besides, the NSA has also been accused of sending malware to PCs of individuals, which they suspect they might be driving certain principles. The whistle blower Edward Snouden reported that around 50000 computers have been infected by the malware. Google also cooperates with NSA, where it places cookies on pages, in an effort to collect information for the US government. Besides, large corporations including MacDonald and Coca Cola are also conducting surveillance on some people, without their knowledge. These are just a few examples on how the freedom of speech, which Roosevelt wished for, has been a luxury for the American citizens. Edward Napalitano has also given his thoughts against surveillance and the infringement of people’s privacy. James Risen’s prolonged battle with the US government, only shows the extent to which freedom of expression has lost its meaning (Haiphong).
The U.S being a superpower has taken drastic steps, to remain in control. While they state that they are merely maintaining the world’s order, there is more than meets the eye. For instance, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is a tool for driving the government’s agenda further. President Obama’s budget placed more money on this docket. In the whole world, the country uses around $633 billion on procuring and maintaining weaponry. The military power is used to control inferior authorities. Susan Rice the director of national security said that the President of Afghanistan needed to sign the accord or face the US government sanctions. Such nations have no choice but to accept the terms, even when the courses they fight may have some truth (Robinson).
2.3 History revisionism
History revisionism is also present in the US. Several authors have been trying to alter the history of America, to suit the current political conditions. There is a fear that with time, the children will not know the facts of the era of slavery or the anguishes of the aboriginals. The writers need to disregard the truth is seen as an element of political correctness. This helps to erase the past of the citizens and tailoring their thoughts to perceive the government in a certain way. The loss of programs by Don Imus, who is a radio presenter, who had made some racial statements against African-American basketball players, is just one of the many examples of present day history revisionism. Each racial divide has their history (Haiphong).
2.4 Government sanctioned torture
The citizens of the US welcomed the details about CIA around 2014, with spite and fear. They were outlined in a Senate Intelligence Committee Report. The media went ahead and spread the details. The worst thing is that President Obama’s administration was the core instigator of the atrocities. Their have been revised to go beyond the provisions of the Geneva Convention. Detainees undergo physical and psychological torture in a bid to deduce information. Rectal feeding, rectal exams and sleep deprivation are some of the tortures detained go through in the cells, which are not regulated by any court or another check body. But, the CIA‘s atrocities have been fueled by both the Bush and Obama’s administrations. While the detainee treatment act of 2005 discourages inhuman treatment of detained persons, it is just in paper (Haiphong).
2.5 Aspects of propaganda
Just as in the Hitler’s regime, propaganda has been an evident element in the current US government. The American Press has been used to drive propaganda about Germany. While they deem it right to criticize Germany’s National Socialism, the US has problems of its own, which need to be addressed before picking on Germans. Furthermore, the reporting of the war in Iraq is another aspect of propaganda by the US government. Through the media, the war is reported in a certain way, which depicts the government as a concerned party, which wants to instill order in a broken nation. CNN for example had become a very convincing voice. The V formation, which was a planned event by the military, is a depiction of propaganda at its best (Haiphong).
US have also been accused of spreading leaflets and broadcasts in Iraq during Bush administration and partly during Obama’s reign. This was to paint a bad picture of Sadam Hussein both in Iraq and to the outside world. The messages sent to the citizens ended up confusing them, since they did not know whom to trust. However, their trust levels for the US government had dropped significantly amid the propaganda. The idea of changing the people’s ideas and thoughts transcends to the psychological realm. It depicts the urge to control the nations, which seems to be rebellious to the US (Haiphong).
Another way that the US government makes propaganda is through telling the citizens that their country abhors freedom and truth. Hence, most buy everything that the president and the government say. Some of the current policies have the right basis but they are yet to be formulated. For instance, the situation of torture within the confines of CIA, is wanting, even if the detainee treatment act of 2005 says otherwise (Haiphong).
In addition, American’s campaign against war and terrorism is filled with a lot of propaganda. Although there are facts, sometimes the government pushes the nations too far, as in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan. The discouragement of Korea’s nuclear arms development is another element of propaganda. They have been able to paint Korea as an enemy of peace, without giving the audience, the main reasons for the nation’s current situation. The Patriot Act that was formulated during Bush’s administration is another instrument of propaganda. They wanted to put laws, which would enable them to control war-stricken countries (Robinson).
3.0 Are the actions leading to fascism or not
Roosevelt’s speech on freedom was meant to give a basis for basic rights for humans (Price). Is his speech still relevant? What of his principles are remaining in the governance of the US? These are some of the questions, which political analysts have raised recently. There is some evidence that the US’s level of democracy, is declining. There are fears that the nation is gradually becoming a fascist state. Does this postulation hold any water?
Before, delving on this subject, what is fascism? The best way of understanding fascism is by combining the principles of a totalitarianism and authoritarianism. Fascism is a blend of the state and corporation (includes the elites) that it is difficult to discern the two. Actually, going by this definition, the US is a fascist state. The government has privatized most of its public sector, leaving the citizens at the mercy of the private investors. Furthermore, there has been de-unionization of the employees. These are clear signs that the economic aspect of the US government is already operating based on principles of fascism. These economic moves have benefited the ruling class while having adverse effects on the working class. They are working more for a less pay. Poverty, homelessness, and mass unemployment are some of the vices, which have been bred by economic fascism (Haiphong).
According to Haiphong, the economic disparities between the ruling class and the working class tend to act against the blacks and the natives. This is because the ruling class, which is mostly composed of whites associate with the white’s working class. However, the whites have created a class of black elites, who are prepared to drive their fascism interests. This can be seen in the current administration of Obama, which have raised the burden of living for the working class and making things easier for the ruling elites.
The military and the police have been used to steer fascism principles. Lack of habeus corpus is present currently in the US as it was in the times of Hitler (Price). Vigilante and police murders are on the rise. Frisking and write taps are also popular. The most surprising thing is that the atrocities happen to black and other native persons. This shows that the white elites are still able to propagate racialism, even when the US says that they are already over the vice (Haiphong).
As mentioned earlier the US media, helps to sell and implement their fascist principles. The education system has also been tailored to be a mouthpiece for the government. The history of the country has been reviewed, to leave only what matches the American government wishes. The CNN and New York Times are other drivers of the US political interests. They sieve the news to give their audience, what they want. This is a freedom discourse, since people have a right to information. Malcolm X once said that if one is not careful, they might end up hating the oppressed and loving the oppressors, since the newspapers tell a different tale. They have been bought to make dishonest news to the detriment of the society (Robinson).
The US constant surveillance on technological gadgets such as phones and computers is an act of fascism. The citizens cannot communicate their thoughts, since their devices might be tapped. The revelations of the NSA are just a tip of the iceberg. The tapping is happening everywhere including in corporations. As in the case of Orwell 1984, constant surveillance is, something the government uses to gain control over its people (Robinson).
America has also intensified is “war against terrorism”. Apart from the usual warlords such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and others, it has tried to interfere with Korea. It fears that the country is developing weapons of mass destruction. The US feels it is their responsibility to warn Korea. But, in doing so, they infringe on their rights as a sovereign state. This shows that the US as the superpower, wants to control the world, by changing the order of governance in every nation (Haiphong).
The government-sanctioned torture is another indication of how the US is continually losing democracy. Although they have made their citizens believe that it upholds the constitution, the treatment of detainees shows that the state is becoming a fascist state. Torture techniques used by CIA as it was reported by the senate, are inhumane. It is no longer “one is guilty until charged”. (Haiphong).
The 1984 by George Orwell (3-393) is one political literature book, which have been read widely. The author wrote the book after the Second World War, but it presents a modern scenario. It presents a few themes including constant surveillance, history revisionism, distortion of language, fear, torture, lack of habeas corpus and unending propaganda among others. Although the book is fictional, the aspects therein are mirrored in most modern governments today.
The US government praises itself for abhorring democracy. Nevertheless, through the eyes of Orwell, one is able to view the hidden fascism principles, which the government practices. The themes of constant surveillance, torture, lack of habeas corpus, torture, fear, distortion of language and d history revisionism, are evident in the current and past administrations (Haiphong). One would be justified to say that George Powell had foreseen the modern US. Even if the atrocities committed against the Oceania citizens are not exactly similar with the ones in the US, the tenets of fascism are evident. Briefly, the US is transforming into a fascist state. Democracy is slowly declining, which is contrary to the propagandas by the media and the government.
Haiphong, Danny. Is the US a Fascist Society? Fascism is a Political Economic Structure Which Serves Corporate Interests. GlobalResearch, 14 March 2014 web. 17 Nov. 2015 <
Orwell, George. 1984. US: Penguin Publishing ltd, 1948 web. 17 Nov. 2015
Price, Robert. The Rise of American Fascism. RationalRevolution, 15 May 2004 web. 17 Nov. 2015
Robinson, Sarah. Fascist America: Are We there Yet? Campaign for America’s Future, 6 Aug. 200